DIY Headlight Restoration

I do a fair amount of driving, some days it feels like I spend the entire day in the car minivan.  I generally don’t mind, but at this time of year, driving seems more challenging.  Everyone is in a rush, the days are shorter, the nights seem darker, and the weather is unpredictable.   Now, I’m pretty good about regular car maintenance, and I usually head to my local AAA car care center.  Car care hasn’t seemed like something that I could handle myself, besides doing my own car washes.  In August, I met some really knowledge men and women from 3M at the Haven Conference.  They showed me amazing products in the 3M Automotive line, and even gave me a free sample to try.  I mentioned that my headlights seemed dull and dingy, and they just weren’t given off as much light as they should:

DIY Headlight Restoration 2

I’m thinking this probably happens to most older cars.  (I have an 8-year-old minivan.)  I’ve tried using all types of glass cleaners, but it really is discoloration and scratches, so my beloved Windex didn’t really work that well.  Right before we drove to our family’s house over Thanksgiving, I decided to see if the Headlight Restoration Kit that I got from the people at 3M.  It’s an all in one kit, and all I needed was a drill, a spray bottle filled with water, and a rag.  This is what the kit I used looked like:

Headlight Restoration with 3MAuto 1

Now, my mother-in-law was visiting when I did this project, and got a little nervous when I started the set up for this project.  First, you have to put tape around the headlight.  You then start sanding the headlight with 3 different grades of sandpaper, and after using the coarsest type of sandpaper, your headlights look very frosted and foggy.  Mine looked like this:

Headlight Restoration 3

I started to wonder if my mother-in-law was right when I looked at the headlights at this point. Granted the step-by-step instructions explained that they would look frosted, but I was worried that I couldn’t fix them. Well, two stages later, the improvements were astonishing. Here’s what the headlights looked like in the midst of the last stage of sanding:

DIY Headlight Restoration 4Once you’ve finished the sanding, you use a sponge pad on the drill to buff in a protector, and the rub it to a beautiful finish with your rag.  While I was buffing, the UPS man walked up our driveway to drop something off.  He was smiling, as he saw my protective eyewear and drill going, and said, “You are a woman of all trades, aren’t you?”  He then admired the work, and asked me about the cost of the kit.  I told him that I believe that they retailed for around $20.  He said that was a pretty good deal, given that it cost more than that when he has had it done in the shop.  Even if he were exaggerating, I did feel quite proud of myself.  Who says car care is for men alone?!

Note: I did receive this kit from 3M for no cost to try, but they did not require me to write this post.  This is about my own experience with the product, which was awesome!